Missouri Plumbing License: How to Become an Plumber in Missouri
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We all use plumbing every day, but most of us don’t have any idea how to design or install it or complete anything but the simplest of repairs. It takes years to learn how to do those things the right way. Most states require years of training for plumbers to ensure competency not only in the technical aspects of the job but the codes that regulate the trade. Missouri does not license plumbers at the state level but requires cities and counties to do so.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, there are 469,900 plumbers nationwide and Missouri employs 9,080 of them. That number is projected to grow 5% from 2020 to 2030, adding 23,400 to the ranks across the country. In Missouri, according to CareerOneStop, the U.S. Department of Labor’s job search website, the projected growth rate is 11% for plumbers, pipefitters, steamfitters, and their helpers.
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And, according to the Associated General Contractors of America, contractors are hiring. In the 2020 AGC-Autodesk Workforce Survey, 60% of firms in the U.S. and 57% of firms in Missouri had unfilled hourly craft positions.
The licensing requirements for plumbers and contractors vary from state to state and, in Missouri, from locality to locality.
Licensing Requirements for Plumbers in Missouri
Is a license required for plumbers in Missouri? Not at the state level, but most cities or counties have local license requirements.
City and county governments are responsible for oversight. By state statute, candidates for journeyman and master plumber certification must take an exam to work in a city with a population of 15,000 or more. (Missouri Revised Statutes 341.010 and 341.020)
Kansas City and St. Louis are the most populous cities in the state. Each has strict licensing requirements for plumbers. Both require apprentice plumbers to work under the supervision of a licensed journeyman or licensed master plumber to gain the knowledge needed to pass examination and the work experience required to apply for a certificate of qualification as a journeyman. The Kansas City Department of Planning & Development and the St. Louis County Department of Public Works issue certificates of qualification at the journey and master level as well as license contractors. Likewise, the cities of St. Charles, Springfield, and Cape Girardeau have similar requirements. Be sure to check with the local government in the area you intend to work to know what is required.
Types of Plumbers Licenses in Missouri
What are the different types of plumbers licenses in Missouri? Most jurisdictions require apprentices to be registered and then certify competency at the journeyman level and then the master level. Once proficiency in the trade is established through master plumber licensing, then jurisdictions will license plumbing contractors.
Steps to Get a Plumber’s License in Missouri
Typically you must be at least 18 years of age to meet employer/apprenticeship requirements. Some cities in Missouri require that you be 21 before applying for a journeyman plumber license and 25 before applying for a master plumber license.
You need to have a high school diploma or GED equivalent.
You must get the proper training. There are two paths:
Attend community or technical college (usually two years) or trade school (usually six to nine months) to prepare for certification exams and to be a good candidate for hire.
Enroll in an apprenticeship program either through a union or trade organization or as an entry-level worker through a sponsoring employer.
You should check local or city licensing requirements for the area where you will be working. There is no statewide licensing process for plumbers, so it’s all about meeting municipal regulations.
You can earn additional certifications to improve your marketability and pay.
If you wish to own your own plumbing business in Missouri after you’ve accumulated significant experience, you can apply for a plumbing contractor license at the local level. You’ll need a state-issued business license, workers’ compensation insurance, unemployment insurance and either a cash deposit or surety bond. Check with your municipality for further requirements.
Benefits of Getting a Plumbers License in Missouri
There are many benefits to getting into the plumbing field in Missouri:
You will earn as you learn with a potential for pay increases as you develop new skills.
The certifications and local licenses you earn are proof of your knowledge, experience, and expertise.
You will receive industry-recognized credentials that can go with you anywhere.
Being a skilled tradesman gives you a competitive advantage and job security.
You will be embarking on a career, not just doing a job.
You can eventually own your own business and be your own boss.
What Is the Mean Salary for a Plumber in Missouri?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the annual mean salary for plumbers nationally as $63,350; in Missouri, it is a little higher at $62,080. That salary increases, as you might expect, as you acquire more experience, according to Indeed.com.
Apprentice: The average wage for an apprentice plumber is $20.56 per hour in Missouri and $5,563 overtime per year.
Journeyman: The average wage for a journeyman plumber is $27.86 per hour in Missouri and $6,813 overtime per year.
Pay can vary widely depending on the city and many other important factors, including education, certifications, additional skills, and the number of years you have spent in your profession.
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How Much Does It Cost to Get a Plumbers License in Missouri?
How you get started will determine your upfront costs. If you figure out this is your intended path while you’re still in high school, you can begin free of charge as a student through the Career Technical Education System. If you’re a high school graduate or have your GED, you can choose to start with a college program. The full-time Plumbing Technology Program at Ranken Technical College costs about $15,000 for tuition. The schools website says that about 80% of students there receive some form of financial aid.
There are different application fees associated with the various local licenses throughout Missouri. For instance, in the City of Jefferson it costs $12 to apply for an Apprentice License, $105 for a Journeyman Plumbing License, $105 for the Master Plumbing License, and $210 for the Plumbing Contractor License. Check with your local jurisdiction for the license fees in your locality.
How to Get a Plumbers License in Missouri
To enter the plumbing field in Missouri you need to learn and gain work experience. Cities and counties throughout Missouri have specific requirements for licensure. You’ll need to acquire some combination of classroom training and hands-on work experience.
To begin performing plumbing work in Missouri you must be at least 18 years old and a high school graduate.
As a registered apprentice you may only perform work that falls under the scope of work your employer is authorized to perform and your work must be directly supervised by a licensed journeyman or master plumber.
EDUCATION/WORK EXPERIENCE: Through Missouri’s Career and Technical Education system some high schools offer vocational programs for juniors and seniors, combining the trade education with high school curriculum. That’s one way to get started gaining the required hands-on experience and classroom instruction. You could also attend community college and earn an Associate Degree in Applied Science or complete a shorter certificate/diploma program to get the foundational knowledge you need to get started. Employers often state a preference for candidates who have graduated from a relevant trade school or technical college.
APPRENTICESHIP: Apprenticeships are sometimes referred to as “The Other Four-Year Degree,” because it’s like college for the trades. If you get one of the coveted apprentice openings through your local United Association Union of Plumbers, Fitters, Welders, & Service Techs it’s like getting a full-ride scholarship to college. Missouri has eight UA local chapters that offer plumbing, pipefitting, HVAC and welding apprenticeships. UA Local 178, based in Springfield, offers apprenticeships for plumbers, pipefitters, service technicians, welders and HVAC/R service. Apprentices are mentored on the job by journeymen and go to school for trade-specific subjects. It is five years of training, with each year consisting of a minimum of 1,700 hours on the job and a minimum of 224 hours of classroom instruction. UA Local 562, serving the St. Louis area, requires five years of training, with each year consisting of up to 2,000 hours of on-the-job training and a minimum of 216 hours of classroom instruction. If you get a job or an apprenticeship, be sure to register with the city or county.
WORK EXPERIENCE: If you don’t get one of those sought-after union apprentice openings, you can apply for entry-level work and begin getting the practical experience while attending classes at night or on weekends to prepare for the trade-specific certifications and licenses. Employers will often give you the opportunity to earn while you learn as long as they see you are committed to getting licensed.
Some employers will act as a sponsor in a registered apprenticeship through Missouri’s Office of Apprenticeship, which maintains a list of registered apprenticeships that meet national standards with the U.S. Department of Labor. Apprenticeships through the Department of Labor are recognized nationwide, so your credentials will move with you. You will be required to attend classes at night or on weekends to get the requisite theoretical training, but you’ll be getting your academic instruction in tandem with your practical experience, and you probably won’t be paying for all of it.
APPLY FOR EXAMINATION/LICENSE: Once you’ve completed the required training and education for your locality, you may apply for examination for licensure. In St. Louis, for example, you’ll need to provide all of the documentation listed on this application, and along with a $30 fee submit the application in person to the St Louis County Department of Public Works Central office in Clayton at 41 South Central Ave., 6th floor. Again, you’ll need to check with your specific local licensing agency for the requirements in the area where you intend to work before you are eligible to sit for the journeyman exam.
CONSIDER BECOMING AN INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR: If you wish to own your own business in the plumbing field in Missouri after you’ve accumulated significant experience and local licensing and certifications, you’ll need a state-issued business license from the Missouri Secretary of State’s Office, workers’ compensation insurance, liability insurance and unemployment insurance. You may also be required by your municipality to post a cash deposit prior to seeking licensing.
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How Long Does it Take to Get a Plumbers License in Missouri?
It takes five years to complete most formal apprenticeships for plumbing. Kansas City requires you to be 21 years old and have two notarized letters completed and signed by official representatives of at least two companies engaged in the plumbing trade verifying that the applicant has at least two years of experience in the installation of plumbing. You also must pass the required journeyman plumbing exam with at least a 70%. If you wish to be licensed at the master level, you then must work an additional year as a licensed journeyman and pass the master level exam. The good news is that you can be working and earning money from the start.
Missouri Plumber Training programs and schools
Plumbers are responsible for a lot more than just fixing leaks or clogs. They design, install and renovate systems that carry liquids or gasses, so they must know more than just the mechanics. They must know plumbing code. There are very few college programs to get the training you need to become a plumbing professional in Missouri. The only college that appears to offer a plumbing technology program is Ranken Technical College in Perryville. Ranken offers a full-time Day Program and an Evening Program in Plumbing Technology. The daytime program is two semesters and costs $15,264. The evening program is six sessions and costs $3,816 per six-credit-hour course session.
As stated earlier, many employers hiring entry-level plumbers’ helpers follow an apprentice model — pairing new employees with those who are licensed to begin hands-on training while requiring the beginner to attend classes. Employers will often help pay for the instruction or reimburse you if you maintain a certain grade point average.
You’ll learn about plumbing systems including:
Underground water supply
Waste and vent piping both inside and outside of buildings
Residential and service plumbing
Any program should also cover OSHA safety training, detailed instruction in chemistry, mathematics, physics, blueprint reading and drafting, in-depth examination of state codes, and advanced training about water treatment systems, water heaters, plumbing appliances and plumbing fixtures.
Apprenticeship: Again, there are also apprenticeships through unions or local trade associations. The Associated Builders and Contractors Missouri Chapter offers a plumbing apprentice program. Plumbers and Gasfitters Local 8 out of Kansas City offers a competitive apprenticeship program that takes five years and a minimum of 216 hours of classroom instruction.
Applicants are required to:
Be 18 years of age prior to the month they apply. (Copy of birth certificate required)
Be a high school graduate or have a GED. (Copy of diploma and transcript or GED certificate grades and transcript required)
Submit to drug testing. Each conditionally selected applicant will be required to take a urinalysis test for drugs. Any applicant who has a positive urinalysis test, or who refuses to take such a test, will not be admitted. The urinalysis test will be paid for by the Apprenticeship Fund.
Tuition: Apprenticeships usually have some up-front costs for books and/or tools, but the apprentice will be paid a percentage of the journeyman wage and will receive periodic wage increases as they meet program requirements. The cost of tuition at a vocational school or college depends on the program you choose.
On-the-Job Experience: While on the job you will need to have good customer service skills, be detail-oriented, have some mechanical capability, and be physically fit because the job can include some heavy lifting and hours of walking, standing and working in tight spaces.
Missouri Plumber Licensing Exam Details
According to state law, every city with a population of 15,000 or more must require plumbers to take an exam before licensure. In Kansas City, for example, applicants have to receive a passing score on the journeyman plumbing with gas (30615) examination administered by Prometric or the journeyman plumber with gas (675) administered by ICC for the City of Kansas City, Missouri. Examination scheduling is explained in the Google doc labeled Journeyman Plumber Standard. That can be accessed through the city website under “Additional Forms and Applications for Contractors.” When the application has been accepted by City Planning & Development-Development Services (CPD-DS), the applicant will be mailed an examination registration form. The information booklet included in the original mailing contains information concerning examination fees, content, format, references, dates, locations, deadlines, and more. In St. Louis, you’ll need to apply for examination using this form and pay the $30 examination fee.
Who Issues Plumbers Licenses in Missouri?
Journeyman and master plumbers need to be certified to work in Missouri, but the state does not issue those certifications. Instead, cities and counties certify and/or license plumbers. The procedure for getting a license varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, so you will need to contact the local government where you intend to work
Does My Missouri Plumbers License Work in Any Other State?
Since every city or local jurisdiction has its own process for licensing, there are no blanket reciprocal agreements between Missouri and any other state. Every state has different licensing requirements. Some will have minimum work experience thresholds, and many will require that you document that experience and pass a licensing exam. Be sure to check those mandates before beginning work as a plumbing professional in another state, even if you’ve been doing plumbing work in Missouri.
As for reciprocity between municipalities, that seems to be handled on a case-by-case basis. In most localities, if you can demonstrate the requisite experience and passage of a comparable test, you will qualify for a plumber’s license at your current level.
Other certifications can help you demonstrate your proficiency to potential employers and clients. National Inspection Testing and Certification (NITC), International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (ASSE Certifications) and other professional certifications are not required but may make you a more attractive hire to prospective employers or can increase your marketability to customers.
Some cities/counties in Missouri require continuing education for plumbers before they can renew their license. In St. Louis, plumbers must complete 12 PEUs (Professional Education Units) approved by the Board of Plumbing Examiners in every three-year licensing period in order to renew. There is no mention of continuing education on the Kansas City website.
Licensing periods vary from place to place. In Kansas City, a license must be renewed every four years, and you will have to pay a $181 renewal fee. In St. Louis, it’s every three years; in St. Charles, a plumber's license is good for one year from July 1 to June 30 and costs $35 to renew. These are just a few examples. Check with your local government to know when, how often, and what it will cost to renew a plumbers license in your area.
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